Amherst Magazine

Laurance McPheeters '49

Deceased February 17, 2013

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50th Reunion book entry


In Memory

Only in May 2014 did we learn of the passing of Larry McPheeters, age 88, a most distinguished member of our class, on Feb. 17, 2013. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Polly; three sons; and seven grandchildren.

Before coming Amherst, this Eagle Scout, who was born in Chattanooga, had significant service with the U.S. Army in the European Theater. In the ETO with the 95th Infantry Division, he earned a Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for "heroic achievement" in action.

He entered Amherst under the 3-2 program with MIT, which meant he would transfer to MIT at the end of his junior year, and, after two years at MIT, he would graduate with a B.A. from Amherst and a B.S. from MIT.

He then did some additional work while with General Electric in New England, earned an M.E. degree and then, in 1951, joined DuPont, where he had a 33-year affiliation. While pursuing these three degrees, he met his future bride, Polly Howe.

They had four sons, but tragically, one was lost at age 7 months due to a birth defect. The other three have had long, happy marriages and produced seven grandchildren. Two became ministers, and one was a VP with Wilmington Trust Co. The family has stayed in Wilmington all this time.

After "retiring," Larry had a second career for 20 years as a master electrician for Habitat for Humanity.

From his start as a Boy Scout to his volunteer work later on and his serving as an elder in his Presbyterian church in Wilmington, this decorated classmate with three degrees ranks with our best. He will be sorely missed by his many lifetime friends there and in the Class of 1949.

Gerry Reilly '49

50th Reunion

Dear Amherst Forty Niners,

Greetings from Wilmington, DE, once the Chemical Capitol of the world, but more recently it seems the Credit Card Capitol of the world. Memories of the good old college days are flooding back as I look forward to the 50th reunion. I have revisited the campus a couple of times since '49, including the 25th reunion, but I know I have not kept up with all the changes. It will be good to get back for the 50th.

I entered Amherst under the 3-2 program with MIT, which meant that I would transfer to MIT at the end of the junior year and after two years there graduate with a BA degree from Amherst and a BS from MIT. So I left Amherst in June1948, and added a further wrinkle by entering a co-op program at MIT, which added a third year there including four quarters working at General Electric plants around New England. This afforded me an MS degree in addition to the others, all to be awarded at the completion of the whole program. In the fall of 1951 I was hired by the Dupont Co., Engineering Dept., but had not yet completed my masters thesis required for graduation. This was finally accomplished in Jan. '52 and I officially graduated in Feb. My one regret in all this is that with three degrees I have never actually attended a graduation ceremony or worn a cap and gown.

Somewhere in the middle of the above during my first co-op assignment at aGE plant in Lynn, MA, I met Polly Howes from Swampscott (next town to Lynn). We were married about a year and a half later, between the end of the summer term at MIT and the beginning of my last GE assignment in Schenectady, NY- Sept. 2, 1950.

My career with Dupont lasted from October 1951 through April 1985 (33.5 years). The first 15 years I spent in various phases of engineering from plant maintenance to research ~d development. The last 18 years were spent in an Operating Dept. in various marketing assignments for a line of materials Dupont had pioneered for the Electronics Industry. I started in field sales and was later in technical and marketing services. And through all of this, miraculously, we only left Wilmington once, for a one year assignment in Waynesboro, VA, where as an engineer I was involved in the start-up of the Orion Plant there.

During all this time we managed to have four sons, the first of which unfortunately we lost at age 7 months due to a birth defect, but the rest have stayed the course, all married and have blessed us with 7 grand children (2 boys and 5 girls). One son is a vice president in the Markting Dept. of the Wilmington Trust Co. and both of the others are ministers (one Congregational arid one Presbyterian).

I retired from Dupont in 1985 during one of the first of their down-sizing retirement incentive plans, 'which with unususal good fortune meshed exactly with my own projected

retirement plan. Since then I have stayed busy doing volunteer work through our church, Literacy Volunteers, Habitat for Humanity, etc. plus travel, including several Elderhostels, both domestic and international..

So that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

 

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